Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus & Max Roach - Money Jungle (1962)

Recently, I've been making an effort to control the magnitude of the media consumption in my life by tying up loose ends. This means I've been finishing books, finishing series, and plowing through archives of unlistened-to music. I finished Twin Peaks & Ken Burns' Jazz in the last week. While that Ken Burns film is pretty annoying in a lot of ways, there is some excellent material in there, like this little gem which you may have seen if you are my friend on social networking behemoths Twitter & Facebook: When presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon, Ellington kissed Nixon four times. When the president asked why, Duke replied "one for each cheek."

Anyway, Money Jungle is an old favorite of mine. This recording is weird in a way that almost seems aggressive, but actually quickly settles into a feeling of "oh actually these guys are just way the fuck smarter than me." Listening to this thing is throwing off my internal equilibrium and I'm reeling around in my chair. Or maybe it's just weird allergy-related sinus pressure.

On the title track, Duke's piano trills and Mingus's bizarre bass slides and Roach's surprisingly hard-hitting drumming are legitimately unlike anything that I've ever heard. This is kind of like a Sun Ra record in that it exists entirely in its own musical paradigm. The theme to Wig Wise actually reminds me a lot of Thelonious Monk, with it's slightly off-kilter pacing and almost dissonant melody, with a playful-sounding resolution to the phrase.

I've been meaning to really dig into Duke's discography for awhile, and I'm gonna do that as soon as I've caught up on my "to listen to" folder. Life goals, man. Life goals.


Pat said...

I haven't heard this one yet, but I worship at the altar of Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue from the Newport concerts.

Andy said...

Dude this first track is insane. 4:33 sounds like fucking U.S. Maple!

Todd said...

Mingus would beat up everyone in US Maple and it would be awesome.

Idol Threat: Warning Shots at the Mainstream said...

This is seriously my favorite Jazz trio album! Mingus looked up to Ellington alot but actually had a hard time getting along with him during this recording. Ellington being the genius he is used this to their advantage by deliberately egging on Mingus during their playing, you can almost hear his piano playing taunting Mingus.

Ellington was a great composer but Mingus was by far my favorite composer (to be fair he himself was influenced greatly by Duke.) Mingus just sounded more up to date and relevant, even now his work still sounds current.

Todd said...

Haha that sounds like some Phil Jackson shit!

Paul said...

outstanding album!